Emmanuel Levinas is a unique philosopher in the 20th century. He redefines traditional philosophy by radically re-thinking it from the point of view of justice, which in his understanding originates in the encounter with the other. For Aristotle, the “first philosophy” is metaphysics: what is the meaning of the verb “to be.” This leads to […]

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This essay was published for the first time in “Justifications de l’Ethique” (Bruxelles: Editions de l’Universite de Bruxelles), 1984, pp. 41 – 51. I am quoting here from the English translation in “,” edited by Sean Hand, 1989, p. 76. Ethics as First Philosophy’ is a clear and powerful summary of Levinas’s methodical and yet […]

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The last entry on Carl Schmitt reflected on the implications of a realpolitik where the sovereign state is necessary to protect us from the hatred that can erupt so easily in human relationships. On one extreme end of this spectrum is war as the ultimate option to defend collective interests against enemies. What is on the other end? Can […]

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Emmanuel Levinas is one of the most interesting European thinkers in the 20th Century. He is Jewish and grew up in Russia, studies philosophy with Husserl and Heidegger in Freiburg, fights with the French Army against the Germans, looses his family to the Holocaust, and is captured by the Nazis, but survives. After the war, […]

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In one of his late works, Alterité et Transcendence, 1995, (the year of his death) Levinas develops a notion of peace that ranges from an idea of personal peace, to the political question of world peace, and the role of the state. What are the philosophical roots of the European ideas about justice and peace, […]

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The following selection of quotes illuminates what Levinas means by “the face of the Other.” First, what does he mean by “face,” and by “other?” “Other” (sometimes capitalized, sometimes not) usually translates the French word autrui, which means “the other person,” “someone else” (i.e., other than oneself). It is thus the personal other, the other […]

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